Since I was a small child, I've always wished that I had a machine that could produce anything I wanted at my command. Every once in a while, technology aligns with childhood wishes and you get magical products as a result. The Printrbot is one such concept. While 3D printers aren't new, the Printrbot aims to be the smallest and the simplest to construct on the market.
3D printers are devices are assembled to work with modeling software on your computer. You input a design on your computer, and the printer goes to work making the object you desire. To accomplish this, the printer deposits layer upon layer of material (generally plastic) until it replicates the object in its entirety.
The possibilities are endless when you think about how far a 3D printer can take you. Whether building small parts for repair or assembly, or printing prototypes of inventions or ideas, the 3D printer can get you there. Imagine a world where you can create a replacement part for the washing machine rather than ordering it online. That's what 3D printers are intended for, and that's what the makers of Printrbot aim to make simpler.
As mentioned, this isn't new technology. Where the Printrbot differs is its ability to bring this product to the masses. Until now, unless you were a real pro at tinkering with machinery and robotics, the 3D printer fell a bit outside of your knowledge level. Printrbot aims to put a 3D printer in every household by making the hardware smaller, and more accessible by simplifying the construction and modeling processes.
Printrbot is an original design which is based on inspiration from other designs, and makes full use of open source information. "We use the latest electronics and firmware, linear bearings, smooth drill rod with tight tolerances, a lasercut print bed, the most popular extruder design, mechanical endstops, a manufactured PCB heated bed, a simple hotend with replaceable tips, and it works with the latest open source software," says designer, Brook Drumm.
Most recently, Drumm pitched his idea on Kickstarter, for funds to make his dream of a 3D printer in every household and school a reality. The project was successfully funded to the tune of US$185,000 (so far) and Brook is in the beginning stages of sourcing parts with suppliers so that he can begin producing the Printrbot on a larger scale. He's currently preparing an order of 500 Printrbots thanks to the funding received through Kickstarter.
The beginners kit - which will need to be assembled - measures approximately 5 x 5 inches (12.7 cm) with upgrades available for 8 (20.32 cm) and 12-inch (30.48 cm) versions. The system runs off a 19v power supply and it will work with a variety of operating systems and software (ReplicatorG being suggested for beginners). Drumm also decided against sourcing parts from China. The Printrbot will be made in the USA.
A pledge of at least US$499 will reserve you a full kit, while $750 will be required for a fully-assembled model.
The video below shows one of the printers in use.